Almost everyone has their own opinion about religion and the role it plays in schools. Often opinions are strong and on the extreme edges of the subject. I happen to live in the Bible Belt, where many people complain about God not being allowed in our schools. I wish we had the freedom to pray with students and remind them to seek God when they are troubled. It would be incredible to have the opportunity to lead a student to Christ. Those are things that simply cannot happen in our public schools. I disagree with people who say that God has been taken out of the public school setting, because I believe God is present. He can be present through YOU.
Think of how much power you have as an educator. Each day approximately 440 students and many of their families see me. This is an incredible opportunity for me to model my faith without having to mention Christianity! I can model patience, empathy, love, friendship, discipline, and so much more each and every day. I have the opportunity to show people my faith by the way I interact with others. I can keep the Bible on my desk or a scripture to remind me of my strength and what drives my soul. I can pray for specific students and their families. I can pray for teachers and staff. I can do this during the day, even if I retreat to my office to do it. God is present in my school. I can talk to my staff about my faith, and share inspiration with them. Some of them even have a prayer group that meets each week. God IS in my school.
So…we can complain about how public education isn’t the way it used to be, or we can embrace new doors that have opened for us to be examples for our students and their families. They need us more than ever. They need God more than ever. We all do. My goal is for students and families to know I am a Christian and have blind faith without ever expressing it through scripture or the words, “I believe in God”. I want them to know by what they see. I want them to see a kind, caring educator who loves relationships and thrives on knowing people…not just the good, but the bad and the ugly about people.
Last summer before school started, I chose an evening to stay until the building was empty. No students, because they were still enjoying summer. No teachers, for they had been working through the day to prepare their classrooms, no custodians…just bare hallways and classrooms. I went on a gratitude walk through the entire building, and counted my blessings. I entered each classroom and looked at names on desks, and the classroom environments teachers had worked so hard to create. I prayed for each teacher, and each class, then left the teacher an uplifting message on a sticky note. It took a couple of hours, but it was well worth my time. God was there. He was in my heart, and his presence was all over the building.
God doesn’t have to be exempt from schools. We can model our faith and core beliefs through our actions and how we treat others. He can be present. He is present. I use my relationship with Him each day to become a stronger leader and a person who can make a positive impact on the people around me. It is a work in progress, and I will never arrive! I can, however, make a difference through my faith and attitude of gratitude.